Impatient industry to Löfven: appoint a minister for life science

12 February, 2019

Large parts of the Swedish life science industry join forces to deliver an appeal with sharp proposals to the Swedish government. The message is that there is no longer time to wait if Sweden is to stand up in increasing international competition. The goal is double export until 2030.

“How difficult can it be to organise ourselves in a way that effectively strengthens us as a life science nation?”

That’s the question asked by Lotta Ljungqvist, CEO of GE Nordic, in a press release from a working group representing influential players in the Swedish life science industry, including Sahlgrenska Science Park.

Lotta refers to the fact that our closest competitor countries have come further, and that it is time for action to promote Sweden as a knowledge economy in life science.

In a quick process, a wide range of stakeholders from the business world, academia, incubators, science parks, research, industry organisations, investment and export promoting organisations and the capital market, have united around an analysis and far-reaching recommendations.

Five quantitative goals have been formulated extending to 2030:

  • Double life science exports from Sweden.
  • 5 of the world’s 30 leading life science companies to come from Sweden.
  • 5 times more life science companies with more than 500 employees.
  • 10 times more life science companies with more than 100 employees.
  • 3 Swedish universities ranked in the top 25 of the world’s leading life science universities.

The report has now been submitted to the Swedish government via the ministries of education and research, enterprise and innovation, and health and social affairs, as well as through the governmental office for life science.

“If we can gather this commitment in two months, it says a lot about the demand that exists,” says Helena Strigård, Deputy Director General of SwedenBIO and project manager for the work.

The report sets high expectations on the government to create the conditions required for Sweden to be perceived as attractive for expertise, capital and products in a global market.

One of the sharp proposals is a call to appoint a life science minister. The recommendation is also to increase investments in research and to allocate resources over the state budget for long term investment and export promotion initiatives in selected strategic markets.

The working group also notes that there is much to be gained from the many different players in the Swedish life science world reinforcing each other’s efforts and becoming better coordinated.

It is also important that Sweden links up with other Nordic countries.

Another untapped opportunity to strengthen the image of Sweden’s capabilities in the area of life science is to reach out for help from the international companies operating in Sweden. The report states that, “This is about engaging key players, creating networks and working proactively. Both to promote expansion and to avoid closures.”